KDE on Windows?

I was browsing SourceForge today and stumbled across the KDE on Cygwin project. Apparently, they have ported Qt 2.3.0 for X11, Qt 1.45 and KDE 1.1.2 to use the CygWin tools and CygWin/XFree86, respectively ports of the popular GNU platform and XFree86 to Windows. Although this is a big step towards making KDE applications useable on Windows machines, it might be interesting to get rid of the X server requirements as Simon Haussman has done with Konqueror/Embedded. It seems to me that a free desktop infrastructure of KDE's caliber that runs on both Windows and UNIX, and perhaps even embedded devices runing Qt/Embedded, would increase the number and quality of KDE programs, and open the door to KDE for many more users. What do you think?


It's a good thing you can't, or we'd have to worry about trash like Liquid coming to Windows.

By Andrew Ymirth at Wed, 2002/04/24 - 5:00am

Porting the GPL Qt/X11 into a GPL Qt/Win32 sounds like the right thing to do. Where shall we host this project so that I may join?

By BLink at Fri, 2001/09/07 - 5:00am

I'd like to see Qt ported as well. For two main reasons: 1) this would take 9/10ths of the BS out of porting apps from X11/Linux to Win32 MUCH easier 2) if the port is done correctly, it could open the door to a DOS based port. Think about it? FreeDOS is a decent little OS for the old DOS nut (all bet missing a bootmanager), but it lacks the user-friendly GUI environments that X11/Linux and MS products have. With a port of QT to Win32, the main task of porting to DOS becomes designing a few libraries instead of building an entire GUI toolkit, WM, etc.

These are only a few of my ideas.

Anywho, later.

Gary Greene
Chief Software Architect, S4 Inc. - Operating Systems Development Division
Grand Rapids, Michigan

By Gary Greene at Sat, 2001/09/22 - 5:00am

I'd like to see Qt ported as well. For two main reasons: 1) this would take 9/10ths of the BS out of porting apps from X11/Linux to Win32 MUCH easier 2) if the port is done correctly, it could open the door to a DOS based port. Think about it? FreeDOS is a decent little OS for the old DOS nut (all bet missing a bootmanager), but it lacks the user-friendly GUI environments that X11/Linux and MS products have. With a port of QT to Win32, the main task of porting to DOS becomes designing a few libraries instead of building an entire GUI toolkit, WM, etc.

These are only a few of my ideas.

Anywho, later.

Gary Greene
Chief Software Architect, S4 Inc. - Operating Systems Development Division
Grand Rapids, Michigan

By Gary Greene at Sat, 2001/09/22 - 5:00am

I have taken an alternative route to this project. After stumbling upon the code from NTXlib. I started a project to make a library, that is compatible with libX11.dll, but instead calls native Win32 API, instead of using an X server.

I am using QT/X11 from the kde-cygwin page for a testing bed. Numerous applications are running, some showing signs of displaying properly. The project is still in the very early stages, but if anyone is interested, visit:

By Don Becker at Thu, 2001/12/27 - 6:00am

quite interesting.

By gt at Fri, 2001/12/28 - 6:00am

Well... just do it! and do an official Win32 port of QT/KDE! not under cygwin, but under doze! juuuust to modularize windows a little bit... and then other things, up to the kernel... and BAM! we have a free version of windows!

excuse my enthusiasm...

By Anonymous Coward at Wed, 2003/01/08 - 6:00am

I've actually been thinking about this for a while. I personally really prefer the KDE interfac e to windows, and have been wondering if it was possible to port KDE in such a way that it could replace explorer.exe. What do you guys think?

By Sam at Sat, 2003/03/29 - 6:00am

I couldent care less, im not using windoze.

By [Bad-Knees] at Sat, 2001/05/19 - 5:00am

Somehow I get the idea that we are loosing sight of the forest. If we have a killer GUI like KDE and a killer app like KOffice (needs improvement), people will flock to Linux, KDE, etc. The hell with windows. Let's make KDE, KOffice (Open Office?) the best, fastest and most elegant. We're almost there. I for one, need an AutoCAD equivalent for Linux. LinuxCAD is crap and Qcad is not there yet.
I love what's been done so far. Thanks to everyone involved for Letting me use a great GUI.


By Edward Rataj at Sat, 2001/05/19 - 5:00am

Seriously, What I see the big problem is, that people are not using Linux (enough).

We do have killer apps: the GIMP.

I run Linux on *my* computer, but at work, I have to run Windows (2000). It is not my computer, it is not my choice, the Business world is crowding around and basing itself off apps like Outlook, amoung others.

Should I be able to run Linux at work, I would save to company a lot of money, and have apps (like the GIMP) that I want.

It will be the new companies, those that realize that they just can't afford computers, and Windows too. Those that choose to be to run Linux so that they can afford to pay their employees, those that don't need Qt/Windows until they have a product to sell. These are the companies that will bring Linux to the business marketplace. These are the companies that will make KDE famous. These are the companies that will grow the Linux desktop use up, develop their products under Qt/GPL, and then storm the still to exist Windows market (probably at least 80%) with their (cheaply created) products, now throught Qt/Commercial.

As long as Linux becomes serious amoung the desktop (from 4-5% to 15-20%) (especialy popular amoung startups) and Windows keeps a strong base (30-80%), Qt/Comerical(Windows) will be a huge profit potential for TrollTech, and a GPL(Windows) version won't really matter -- assuming the above.

Similarly, if Linux, Windows, and MacOS all each hold a strong portion of the market (at least 15%+), then Qt/Commercial will be essential for cross platform development .

However, ultimately, we face a future with further and further general consumer education. More and more great game MODS (like Counter-Ctrike for half-life) will of course become stardard, moreover, "KWORD" MODs will also increase (a.k.a. an increase in the number of serious, capable coders and kernel hackers).

We will see increased GNU/Linux use. Predictably, it's happening from the outside in. First came servers, currently we're seeing it happen to embedded, and adventualy (the hardest to "Konquer") the desktop.

The next Linux boom doesn't have to happen in the USA, France, or Finland. It doesn't have to start in China, Japan, or Brazil. It will happen, where it happens. Many governments will help, including those that really hate Microsoft, those that really hate the USA and/or other foreign influences. Linux is the silent "killer." It's existence (or that of an alternative) is unavoidable.

What is the immediate future? I'd like to think single boxes. Each marked "WIN/LIN/MAC". That don't give any preference to either. They'll contain a single DVD, which will install perfectly, just differing on your system.

What about today? Today you don't have to care about Linux anymore. Its just inevitable. You can be like me, and do what you can, all while forgeting about Linux at your work PC, and then coming back in amazement of all that has happened in the Linux world, when you come back.

-- Greg

By Greg Brubaker at Sun, 2001/05/20 - 5:00am

Ed, Bentley System's has offered Microstation for Linux for at least 4 years now. i've used the windows versions from that of "4" back in 1993 through the Microstation-95 version. I've used Autocad (due to necessity (like windows), but thing it sucks big time) for a long time too. Look into Microstation,it is clearly the world best CAD application, and has been lightyears ahead of Autocad since 1992.Good luck! ;-)

By gaffo at Thu, 2001/05/24 - 5:00am

are you insane? i have used both autoCAD and microcrap, and autoCAD is clearly the industry standard, and there is a huge reason for that. Microcrap is slow and dumb, it hardly works. AutoCAD is precise and very fast. You must be very ignorant to how both of the programs operate.

By chad williamson at Tue, 2002/01/15 - 6:00am

I'd *really love* to see this happen! As I see it, this was almost bound to happen sooner or later! And the more KDE there is out there (whatever the platform) , the better! Anyway - just my 2c worth ... :-) . To the KDE team - keep up the good work - KDE *rocks* !

By KiwiGuy at Sat, 2001/05/19 - 5:00am

Better yet, implement qt in the hardware. Windows GDI already enjoys that privelege -- so why not do the same with a much more powerful toolkit like QT?

By Vlad at Sun, 2001/05/20 - 5:00am

Why on earth would you waste your time? Windows is windows because of IT'S windows. Rip the guts out of it, remove functionality and (dare I say it) stability and noone would want to install kde. The only people who would want it are those who use kde on linux, bsd etc. so you'd be aiming at an even smaller audience than now, which would consist of people already using the product anyway. Concentrate your efforts where it counts.

By Con Kolivas at Sun, 2001/05/20 - 5:00am

kdelibs would be nice to have on windows, because then you can code portable apps not only based on QT but also on the very smooth KDE interface.
This will especially help industry that want to port their apps to linux, but need to continue parallel development on windows. An even better thing would be a wrapper to the MFC event loop so that you can use both events loops in one program for porting big apps in small steps.

I think there are a lot of developers out there in the industry who'd love to make a linux version or their products, but who cannot persuade their business people to throw away their code and start over from the beginning. If KDE helps the people to make an easy transition from MFC to QT/KDE this will result on a lot of applications being available for Linux/KDE!

By eva at Mon, 2001/05/21 - 5:00am

I'm not sure how good it would be to even bother writing an MFC wrapper, because Microsoft is essentially phasing MFC out. They don't plan on updating it much at all in the future, so it seems they're planning on abandoning support for it, in much the same way they abandon old OS's a short time after their newest version is released.

By Mike at Sat, 2006/12/16 - 6:00am

I'm not sure how good it would be to even bother writing an MFC wrapper, because Microsoft is essentially phasing MFC out. They don't plan on updating it much at all in the future, so it seems they're planning on abandoning support for it, in much the same way they abandon old OS's a short time after their newest version is released.

So essentially, any software using MFC will probably require recoding anyway. Why not move it all to Qt? It's more powerful and easier to use, anyway...

By Mike at Sat, 2006/12/16 - 6:00am

How would you implement the blue screen of death in KDE. :)
Really, with having to reboot that unstable opperating system all the time, why would you want to give KDE this reputation ??


By Gary at Mon, 2001/05/21 - 5:00am

I don't think that the instability of Windows would diminish the credibility of KDE. I know of many companies that would like to adopt Linux, but are limited because they can't get the software they need on it. If you believe as I do, that the Free Software model inevitable yields better software, then you won't be scared of proprietary software competing with free software over the long term. Porting KDE to Windows would allow free software to compete with proprietary software based on merit, and in the mean time create a larger selection of KDE applications. If we are confident in the long-term credibility of Free Software then we will not be scared to share an API on a proprietary system. Think of a KDE port to Windows as an onramp to Linux.

By George Molson at Sat, 2001/09/01 - 5:00am

I don't know about you, but personally I haven't rebooted my Windows machine since the last security patch. And before that, the previous one. And before that, the previous one, And before that..........

By TX at Sun, 2003/01/26 - 6:00am

I don't realy care about a Win32-version. But a BeOS version of some KDE apps (like KOffice) would be cool. According to this article (see the link below), there are already people working on it:

By XRay at Mon, 2001/05/21 - 5:00am

Check out this link. We will soon have Qt for Macintosh, and maybe we can have KDE for MacOSX then!

By Stentapp at Mon, 2001/05/21 - 5:00am

I'll think this would be a great idea to put kde on Windows boxes !
Then users under windows could personize the entire desktop.

And this is for kde the great way to expanse and have more users.

By DjCoke at Tue, 2001/05/22 - 5:00am

I think it should be done- Introduce Windows users
to the glory of The Linux/Unix way of thinking. Expand their minds. Challenge assumptions. That way, when the Microsoft empire falls, There will
be users who are primed and ready to switch to Unix/Linux. Yes, I know, the Gui is not the OS,
as in Windows (and should never be! Thank God) But, it's a step to more widepread acceptance without having to turn into Windows.

By Angel Mendez at Tue, 2001/05/22 - 5:00am

Some of the responses here show that some of the readers are rather unfamiliar with Windows.

Let's explain the 3 main areas of concern here:
Shell / Window manager

People have this nasty habit of saying that Windows is a cancer by Billy that is unstable. That is true of the 9x/ME kernal, which is a hack of DOS. The NT kernal, used in NT/2000/XP is about as stable as Linux. In some situations, yes, it is unstable, in others, it's more stable then Linux. (Chances are, if it crashes a lot, it's a sign of bad hardware and not a buggy kernal.)

Windows default "window manager" and browser are explorer. IE (internet explorer) isn't integrated into windows, it's integrated into explorer. In fact, it's just as integrated as KDE's web browser is integrated into KDE!

(Thus, if you want to get rid of IE, you'll need to replace explorer alltogether)

If you replace explorer with KDE, what do you gain? As far as stability, a lot, because you're replacing the weakest link of windows. You also get a 100% replacement shell, which none of the current replacement shells can do. They all still use explorer to browse files! As far as usability, you don't gain much. KDE has a steeper learning curve then explorer, IMO, thus novice users might be even more intimidated. Expert users will probably like it better.

What do you need to get KDE to replace explorer/IE?
- You need to get the port of XFree to "mix" its onscreen windows with the windows on windows's desktop.
- You need to get KDE to integrate windows from windows into its taskbar.
- You need to create replacements for the explorer executables that wrap into KDE.
- You will probably need cygwin or equivilent

Doing so will allow for full KDE integration and will actually make WindowsNT even more stable.

By Andy Rondeau at Thu, 2001/06/28 - 5:00am

I defy you to name *one* situation where the Windows kernel (it is kernel, by the way, not kernal) is more stable than a Linux kernel.

By Mike at Sat, 2006/12/16 - 6:00am

Fundamental flaws in the Linux kernel can often not be fixed without totally recompiling the kernel or taking the time to install a new kernel entirely. Patching the Linux kernel can be a time consuming task as well. With windows, security flaws and other issues can be easily and often automatically addressed by patches, allowing businesses to maintain a lower total maintenance cost in many cases. At IBM we use both open source operating systems like Linux and Windows. We also use Solaris SPARC systems and AIX systems. Don't be so quick to debunk a particular operating system for every case of use. No one operating system can fit the needs of every user or situation. Thats why it's important to consider OS choices when planning a network or system architecture.

-- Joe Davy

By Joe at Mon, 2007/07/09 - 5:00am

> Fundamental flaws in the Linux kernel can often not be fixed without
> totally recompiling the kernel or taking the time to install a new
> kernel entirely.

Linux kernel security flaws are relatively rare compared to flaws in other pieces of software that you might be running. Also, upgrading the kernel to fix a security bug, when managed correctly by your distribution, should be fairly painless - you just need to reboot afterwards, exactly like you do after applying most Windows updates.

The underlying message of your post is a good one, but if you're going to point out an issue in Linux at least pick one that is a real problem.

By Paul Eggleton at Tue, 2007/07/10 - 5:00am

Windows sucks dude. The only thing I like about Windows is the Windows installer. I am still figuring out Linux so text based instalation is new to me. With Windows XP (that was on the family's computer, I only use it to play WoW and surf the web because I still havn't gotten the Netgear WG121 wireless adapter working on my Linux PC. I would get one that is compatable out of the box but I am broke.) I have to reboot 1 too 3 times a day. I upgraded the family computer to Vista the other day and that is a little better but still there are plenty of software incompatabilitys and the sound bugs out.

The only thing that is cool about vista is the sidebar. I am still trying to find one like that for KDE.

But to say what I wat trying to say before I got off track is that everything Microsoft does to improve brings its own problems

By Idog_is_1 at Tue, 2007/04/03 - 5:00am

I really like to see fanatics at work. Windows has a lot of bugs? Yes it does, so has Linux. As I read earlier and agree, no Operating System can satisfy every need or machine there is.
At home I still use Windows XP. It is now installed for almost two years, never had to reboot it because of some weird crash, never had to reformat it. And by the way, in all my years in using windows, all the times i reformated my hard-drive, i did it because of all the software i installed and uninstalled.
And for you who stand up for Linux, I do love Linux, but it's a mess to install whatever you want in it. Sure, it is getting easier as time goes by, but still, we have to recompile stuff, it almost never works at first, etc.
For those of you who like to compile you OS from scratch, ok, it's awesome, but for those of us who prefer spending there time using the software instead of rewriting it, linux is kind of a turn-off.
What I'm saying is, Windows has it's good points and it's bad points, but then again, so does Linux.
I'm still trying to replace explorer with KDE for good. I prefer KDE, but won't trade it untill i find some easy way to install it.

By Ficc at Mon, 2008/02/11 - 6:00am

Why bother with Windows?

Well, until ReactOS finally (if ever) matures, there is simply no replacement for the functionality which has been extended to Windows through the MILLIONS of commercial and freeware offerings available to the platform. The flexibility and diversity provided here cannot be matched by Linux or anything else, period.

There's more.

A significant portion of the difficulties which prevent Linux from being widely adopted as a replacement for Windows is the ongoing unavailability of drivers for hardware (printers, anyone?); and the pervasive, entrenched unwillingness on the part of the development community to drop its arcane and problematic approach to software installation.

The final crippling blow for Linux really comes down to ego on the part of individual members of the greater development community. For, without a central, unified SINGLE distro effort to forcefully address those several issues which prevent its widespread adoption, Linux will never find popular support in either the freeware or commercial sectors. Get smart, get it together, or get out, Linux: Microsoft is laughing its head off at your narcissistic, disorganized idiocy.

Tower of Babel, anyone???

By Old Hand at Tue, 2008/03/04 - 6:00am

well i used Linux for 3 years and eventually the windows world beat me in the drivers section. No driver for my usb wifi adaptor (very low signal with ndiswrapper), my mp3 player wasn't working well in linux, etc. So KDE on windows would be a bless. For now i'm using FlyakiteOS to change the interface of windows. I hope that eventually i'll find a way to replace Explorer with KDE

By THIBOLOT at Thu, 2008/03/20 - 5:00am

i'm a newbie when it come to linux, in fact i have little to none experiance with unix or linux. i, like many other windows users, am fed up with the MS OS. it's unreliable, unstable, and uncooperative when it comes to changing it to your liking. i also grew up on windows and am stuck on using thier OS for the time being, and i'm sick of not have the control and stability of my own computer. the idea of having a desktop other then the MS desktop is a great idea. it would allow normal user in the same predicament as me to warm up to linux or Unix software. however, the idea of piggy backing on the MS OS rasies questions on the stability. will it work better then the windows currently on the majority of computer that use MS?

By dan sawvel at Thu, 2001/10/11 - 5:00am

piggybacking ms may be varry unstable. If I where you i would try a linux live cd fedora core or suse to get the feel of linux and decide if you want to make a permanant change. I'm hoping you will go with linux

By Joey at Tue, 2005/10/04 - 5:00am


I have KDE running on Windows right now with cygwin and xfree86.



What I'm going to attempt now, is to replace the shell=explorer.exe and see if I can just load up cygwin.

Well, the reason, is because when I load it, and then load KDE, it's soooo slow.

It reminds me of a couple years back, when I was running Win98 on 8mb ram. Heh. Slow. But now I have 228MB ram, 333mhz AMDk6-2 Lemme see if I can get this too work. If not, oh well. :) I'm running windows 2000 professional btw. :)

By Rich Kreider at Wed, 2001/10/17 - 5:00am

as a shell would be nice.... i get sick of looking at the same old windows... and functions.

i usually replace explore with LiteStep from but the themes from there usually crash due to a step.rc error or missing dll that u cant find anywhere handy.

it would be a good idea for KDE to come up with a shell replacement for windows machines or post a clear HOW-TO on the ways and means.

By Dr_Blackross at Thu, 2002/01/10 - 6:00am


By maan at Thu, 2002/05/23 - 5:00am

I'm new at this computor stuff...from what i understand i don't need explore.exe then what do i need to download pictures from afriends e mail????

By christine labatt at Mon, 2002/07/15 - 5:00am

Ia gree completely. I think a version of KDE that would be used like a shell and implement the best features of windows with the best features of KDE, and allow you to run certain KDE only apps such as ksirc and kvirc, and konq, and a few others on your winblows machine would be nice. Even if it was just an overlay or an emulator would be an improvement, it would allow people to get used to KDE, and all the intracacies within without having to totally strip down their windows machine all at once and be lost in a world they know nothing about and have to limit productivity while they take th time to learn an entirely new O/S. I know alot of you are thinking why can;t they jsut abandon it little babies, and it's people like that with attitudes like that, that will doom linux to a select few then to getting it on majority of computers like everyone wishes it was. Problem is some people RELY knowing their computer inside and out, and scrapping it for something else could put them on the streets or drop them to another job or any number of things. You can;t generalize like that. Linux in general has finally started over the first few hurdles, but we still have a LONG ways to go before we can kick the %$#^ out of Gates. To smooth the eventual transition though, desktop developers including KDE, would do well to at least make a windows shell, and even better to port some of their apps or all of their apps to run in that shell, maybe with an emulator or something. Anyway I would say more about what linux needs to do but this is hardly the place.

By Michael Dooley at Thu, 2002/10/10 - 5:00am

Is this Jellybean4u?

By Katieboo at Fri, 2003/08/08 - 5:00am

i'm looking for an installer for KDE and GNOME on Windows(CYGWIN) which is only one file so that when i will download it, it's only one file. i'm tired downloading many files. is there a site for KDE and GNOME that is already in zip, gzip, rar, ace, tar, bzip, or any archives(all files in compress). can anybody tell me where i can download it...

that's all, thanks!

cygwin user, CamiloX

By Camilo Lozano III at Mon, 2003/02/03 - 6:00am

I myself am looking for an installer. So many people talking about this tool, nut I am exhousted of too many files on sourceforge and all other sites I looked for.
All tar bz2 and many other fiels are there which I downlaoded, but cant find Konqurer or any installer exe in them.

Is there anyone who can direct us to the right files to downlaod to install
kde for windows system. I read somewhere about downlaoding kexi-2005beta4-win32.exe which is simply set of 2 or 3 tools created with outlook of kde but does not include kde itself for windows.

btw: I am running win98.

Any help is appreciated.

Ali Imran

By Ali at Sun, 2004/10/24 - 5:00am

Try winik, I've installed it, but can't get kmymoney to compile. It's still pretty cool.

By pnutjam at Thu, 2005/02/10 - 6:00am

I can see why you wouldn't want to waste time make windows look like linux but look at it this way:

I currently use a windows desktop simply to run programs like dreamweaver and photoshop for my work. There just simply isn't a way for me to switch completely to linux with these dependencies. I also use a linux computer that doubles as a home server. I love my kde desktop and I would love to have that environment on my windows machine. It wouldn't change the fact that I'm using windows but it would sure make life a little more interesting. I would like to agree with a previous comment that started out with "Some of the responses here show that some of the readers are rather unfamiliar with Windows." Porting kde and it's applications to windows would make life better for us that have to use windows everyday until big software companies understand and create versions of their software for linux. It would be very interesting to know why Macromedia and Adobe are holding off, you would think that it would be very simple for them to take ther macosX versions and build them for linux?

As for the benefits of cygwin... my life is now complete... no more typing 'ls' and 'rm' in a windows command prompt with the response of "comamnd not found" chmod and chown even work! I set c:\cygwin\bin as a search path and my windows already feels unixy, now only if I had a unixy gui......

By Mat at Wed, 2003/09/24 - 5:00am

Try Litestep on for size you'll love it

By Jon Sandell at Sun, 2004/04/18 - 5:00am

Apparently I have pooed my pants

By Mr_boots at Fri, 2004/01/02 - 6:00am

We can not forget the uninterruptable sleep processes and those damn zombie processes....

By AcidHorse at Thu, 2004/01/29 - 6:00am

Has anybody tried to use Kde's KONSOLE on windows. I'm dammned to use a win2k at my office and i do not even have the root for my desktop.
I'd love to use this terminal on windows. will it work with cygwin or it must be recompiled????

By Steve at Sat, 2004/04/24 - 5:00am